What is old? Am I old? Depends on how you look at it, I suppose.
(This math may not be correct, I just did it in my head...)
What's funny to me is that the first 18 years felt like 40 but the past 22 have flown by. You know the old saying that goes something like "The days drag on but the years fly by"? Well, there's a reason it's an old saying, turns out it's true! In my head I just moved to Australia a few years ago (22 years ago), just got married recently (16 years ago) and my kids are little (they're not). In my head, 40 is forever away because 40 means being a grown up and I definitely don't want to be one of them. I can pretend to be one when necessary, but inside I'm the same as I was 20, even 30 years ago.
Having said that, there are some things that I have learned in my 40 years on this planet. I have learned that people who walk behind cars that are reversing out of parking spaces are assholes (do you really think anyone can look every direction at once?! C'mon man!). I figured out pretty early on that multiple shots of flaming sambuca is never a good idea, no matter who tries to tell you it is, whiskey is a much safer bet. I learned that it's better to surround yourself with a handful of good people than to be stuck in a crowd of nightmares. I now know there is nothing in the world better than being at home watching "The Goldbergs" with my family. I also, in my old age, came to the realization that I have absolute zero patience for pettiness and drama but unlimited time for dogs. But most importantly, what I have learned is it's up to me to live my life, every day and this life is something I don't want to miss.
It seems pretty simple but it's actually so easy to forget, to get stuck in the dangerous rut of worrying about the future, putting everything off for tomorrow. Live the life you have right now. Make it better where you can, make the most of it where you can't because life goes by so fast. Much too fast for some, and for others I suppose it goes by too slowly, but I know that I don't want to wish any days away.
When Jack was a baby, he had a problem latching on to breastfeed so we had to feed him through a tube that attached to my finger, to stimulate his sucking reflex. I was devastated that he wouldn't nurse (we had been through a tough pregnancy and his birth was, to put it delicately, not the lovely experience we had envisioned!) and while we tried everything, it just wasn't going to happen so I did the next best thing. We rented an industrial sized breast pump and I would pump every hour, feed him, sterilize the equipment and then repeat the process. Tom was a great help of course, he fed Jackie Boy, helped with the clean up and gave me a break when he could but it was tough. During the day I was on my own and during the night, Tom had to sleep because he had a job to get to in the morning so a lot of the time, it was just me and Jack and I was exhausted.
I'll never forget one night when Jack was only about 6 weeks old. I was still trying so hard to get him to nurse and he was having none of it. I was so frustrated and so was my beautiful little boy, he was crying and hungry, he didn't want to try anymore, he just wanted to eat. So I pumped, fed him and rocked him. I kept him in my arms long after he fell asleep, just staring at his perfect little face and feeling the weight of him against me. I was so tired and knew I should seize this opportunity to get some rest when it occurred to me that there would be a night in our near future when he wouldn't cry for me, when I wouldn't need to get up and pump and feed him and go through the whole ritual. I realized right then that this period we were living in was very temporary. This was a fleeting moment that would be gone before I knew it and it broke my heart a little bit, thinking there would come a time when I wouldn't need to rock my sweet baby to sleep, so I'd better soak it all in. And I did. Instead of putting him down and going to bed, I lived in that moment and now I can relive that moment whenever I want to. That night stuck with me, through all the late nights and the kids climbing into beds when you'd rather they didn't, when those little arms reach up for one more hug or one more piggy back and you're so tired and sore and have barely enough energy to pull yourself up. But you take that little person in your arms, you let them cuddle between the two of you in bed and you piggyback them up the stairs because one of those times it'll be the last time they ask, but you won't know it and you don't want to miss out.
This is the most important lesson I've learned, and I've been able to apply it to all aspects of my life. Travel, laugh, love, enjoy music, dance, eat good food, drink good wine when you can, but take the time to really live in the moment and appreciate everything, the highs and the lows. Be kind to everyone, especially the folks you don't like. That's a tough one, and but it's possible. The bottom line is live the life you have. Don't sit around waiting for something that may never come, don't let what should have happened yesterday stop you from achieving what you can today. Life is wonderful and it truly is a gift.
Thank you to everyone for the thoughtful birthday messages, I am so grateful to have all of you in my life, you make me very happy. And just for the record, I still put my giant baby boy on my lap, in fact he just came home from school and sat on my lap here on our front porch. He doesn't fall asleep but he still cuddles me back and I still enjoy every second of it.